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Testing megathrust rupture models using tsunami deposits

May 24, 2024

The 26 January 1700 CE Cascadia subduction zone earthquake ruptured much of the plate boundary and generated a tsunami that deposited sand in coastal marshes from northern California to Vancouver Island. Although the depositional record of tsunami inundation is extensive in some of these marshes, few sites have been investigated in enough detail to map the inland extent of sand deposition and depict variability in tsunami deposit thickness and grain size. We collected 129 cores in marshes of the Salmon River estuary in Oregon and reanalyzed 114 core logs from a 1987–88 study that mapped the inland extent of circa 1700 CE sandy tsunami deposits. The ca. 1700 CE tsunami deposit in the Salmon River estuary is easily recognized in cores ≤1 m deep in which a buried marsh peat is overlain by a well sorted sand bed with a sharp lower contact that thins and fines inland. We use tsunami deposit data and models of sandy tsunami sediment transport (using Delft3D-FLOW) to test 15 rupture models that could represent a ca. 1700 CE earthquake. At least 12–16 m of slip offshore of the Salmon River, which results in 0.8–1.0 m of coastal coseismic subsidence, is required to match the ca. 1700 CE sand deposit's inland extent, which is consistent with models of heterogeneous megathrust slip in ca. 1700 CE. Our methods of detailed tsunami deposit mapping, combined with sediment transport modeling, can be used to test models of megathrust ruptures and their tsunamis to potentially improve earthquake and tsunami hazard assessments.

Publication Year 2024
Title Testing megathrust rupture models using tsunami deposits
DOI 10.1029/2023JF007444
Authors SeanPaul La Selle, Alan R. Nelson, Robert C. Witter, Bruce E. Jaffe, Guy Gelfenbaum, Jason Scott Padgett
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title JGR Earth Surface
Index ID 70254574
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Geology Minerals; Coastal and Marine Geology Program; Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center